It’s fair to say that when Fine Art student Marcus Dove was commissioned to create an artwork commemorating Baroness Lawrence’s appointment as Chancellor of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) he was a little anxious.
It’s not that often that anyone, at any stage of their career, has the opportunity to fashion something for someone so renowned.
But Marcus was up to the task, set by DMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard, and had the opportunity to meet the inspirational campaigner last month so he could present his stunning piece, called And Still She Rises, to the Baroness.
The artwork, which is created with the mixed media of photography and paint, shows a phoenix rising from darkness into light.
Baroness Lawrence said: “It was a lovely surprise to be presented with Marcus’s artwork. Taking up the position of Chancellor for DMU is important to me.
“The title of the work ‘And Still She rises’ is a symbol of the struggle I have been through since the death of Stephen.
“The rising of the Phoenix represents a period in my life that I had to live through. You can tell by the art work that Marcus took a lot of care in his preparation for the final piece, showing how the colours and his skill came together in the finished product.
“Marcus is a very talented artist, and one who has a very bright future and this can be seen when he presented and told me of his ideas behind the work.”
Marcus said: “I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit apprehensive at first, due to the sensitive nature of everything Baroness Lawrence went through.
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“I immediately knew that the artwork had to be celebratory, include my signature use of smoke grenades and consist of subtle symbolism to respectfully communicate her rising.
“The first time I met Doreen was the day of presenting the artwork as it was a surprise for her. By this time I had learned a lot about the Baroness and felt fortunate to finally meet her. I presented the artwork and at the same time read out the artist statement that goes with it.
“It was a positive experience and she liked it a lot, especially the rising and the coming away from darkness that the work visually represents.
“Baroness Lawrence stood up to a corrupt justice and policing system and helped expose it for what it was. Through dark times she managed to stay strong and not let that same system break her. That sort of persistence and courage will forever be inspiring.”
Professor Shellard said: “I had a feeling that the commission would be a challenge for Marcus, but I also knew that he had it in him to create something that was both unique and thought-provoking.
“He has delivered a superb piece of art, which not only captures the celebratory nature of DMU’s appointment of Baroness Lawrence as our Chancellor, but acknowledges the strength and tenacity she has shown to take on the establishment and win justice for her son.”
Marcus explains the symbolism in his work in the artist statement which says: “The phoenix rises above a dismantled set of scales, a symbol of justice that had once failed, and, more specifically, a visual representation of the collapsed double jeopardy rule which had previously meant that no persons could be charged for the same crime twice.
“The dismissal of this rule is what helped Doreen Lawrence attain justice for her son, Stephen Lawrence. A young, promising man who was taken away from her during a racially motivated attack in 1993.
“Doreen endured a battle that no person should ever go through, one that surely caused great pain and suffering, represented here by thistle, which is the heraldic symbol for not only pain, but also protection and pride. Thus the flower is situated at the centre.
“After all that she has been through, Doreen still manages to advance, help and inspire others. This sort of strength is not one to be overlooked, it is one to be admired, which is why this piece of art serves as a sober celebration for the Baroness and all that she has achieved."
Posted on Monday 23rd May 2016